Water, water (not quite) everywhere:
The network of fissures and caves in the limestone area channels water underground, often deep below the surface. The only river which completely crosses the limestone outcrop is the Wye, from Buxton to Rowsley.
Farms and villages only survived and prospered where water supplies were reliable The main market towns, Longnor, Buxton, Castleton, Bakewell, Matlock, Wirksworth and Ashbourne, therefore grew up on the neighbouring mudstones or at the very edge of the limestone outcrop. The only major exception is Tideswell in the heart of the limestone area, where impervious volcanic lavas support a local perched water table.
Such was the importance of water supply that the local custom of well dressing became widespread, flower petals, leaves etc., are pressed
into panels spread with local clay to make pictures, These are placed near wells and springs. In contrast, the impervious shale floored valleys surrounding the limestone, have provided sites for about fifty reservoirs, supplying about 10 million people living in surrounding towns and cities of central England. The most recent, Carsington Water, was opened by the Queen in 1992. The supply is drawn via tunnels from the Derwent and can impound 35 000 megalitres. It is now a very popular tourist attraction, drawing a million visitors annually.